University of Alabama

Alabama football: Crimson Tide conducting spring experiments

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Literally, figuratively or mathematically, the Alabama football team can’t suffer a defeat in the next six months.

There’s absolutely nothing to lose.

So spring practice in Tuscaloosa is a time for experimentation with helmets and shoulder pads.

New faces and a few veterans took turns at different positions in Monday’s first workout and figure to do the same when the 15-practice schedule resumes at 4:30 p.m. today. Nothing too rash is taking place behind the green fences enclosing the Crimson Tide practice fields. Coach Nick Saban just wants a look at how a few players react in new surroundings.

“This is the time to master your position,” Saban said. “We don’t have to play any games. We don’t have any game plans that we’re putting in. So everything that we do should be about what we do.”

For players such as Blake Sims, Anthony Orr and Vinnie Sunseri, what they’re doing might differ from previous assignments.

Sims, a redshirt freshman who can play any number of positions, is spending time with the quarterbacks again. He mimicked opponents such as LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Auburn’s Cam Newton on the scout team last fall and is sticking with the position this spring.

Having a shortage of quarterbacks kept Sims from working with the running backs and wide receivers as he did part-time last year. Saban called him “an insurance policy” because AJ McCarron, Phillip Sims, and early-enrollee Phillip Ely were the only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.

“There may be some position that we develop him at later. But for now, we felt the first thing he needed to do was learn quarterback for an emergency standpoint,” Saban said.

Defensive lineman Anthony Orr also redshirted last year and is getting an opportunity to work at the second defensive level. Saban said Orr, at 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds, is undersized as a defensive end, considering the top three starters last season weighed an average of 303.

But his pass-rushing abilities shouldn’t be wasted, so Orr is working with the outside linebacker/defensive end hybrids known as a “Jack” linebacker.

Size also could be part of Sunseri’s trial run with the defensive backs. A linebacker in high school who graduated early, Sunseri is 6-0, 217 -- 34 pounds lighter than the average of the four returning starters.

“We just wanted to see if he could play safety because we know that he can play linebacker,” Saban said. “So that’s more of an experiment than anything else.”

On the offensive line, former five-star recruit Tyler Love worked Monday behind William Vlachos at center. Love was the second-team left tackle last season and has yet to start a game in three seasons at Alabama.

Vlachos thinks new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was behind the change.

“I think (Stoutland) saw some things that he thought Tyler could do,” Vlachos said. “He recruited Tyler, so he knew him previously, so I guess he thought he had some attributes that he thought he could apply to the center position.”

Sophomore Michael Bowman was back with the wide receivers Monday after spending time with tight ends in the fall. At 6-4, 225, he would be a Julio Jones-sized target in a group of wide receivers lacking size.

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